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I want to talk to you about a card that is really important to adulting.

It’s not a credit card, it's not an ID. In fact, you’ve probably had one since you were a little kid.

It’s a library card. [♪♩INTRO]. In elementary school, most of us learn that libraries are rooms filled with books, which sounds awesome, but that’s underselling it, frankly. Librarian Julie Biando Edwards, author of Transforming Libraries, Building Communities, says that “The public library is the Room of Requirement.” Public libraries reflect the needs and desires of the communities they serve.

They’re often filled with books, but they’re also meeting places for... ukulele classes or improv groups. They’re computer labs and 3D printing workshops. They’re concert venues, movie theaters, and ballrooms.

I've played my fair share of shows at libraries. Just like the Room of Requirement, the library is whatever a community needs it to be. For instance, I live in a town nicknamed “the garden city” and we’re surrounded by rivers, so at our library we can checkout heirloom seeds for a garden or life jackets for kids because those are things we need and want in our community.

No matter where you live though, the easiest way to utilize everything the library has to offer is with a library card. Most public libraries serve a specific area, and in the US it’s frequently by county. So when you move to a new county, you probably need a new library card.

To get one, go to the library you’ll frequent most. This could be a large central library, or it could be a smaller branch library. All public libraries within a community are connected, so just pick the branch that’s most convenient to you.

A note here, that if you’re unable to get yourself physically to a library, just call or email your local library. Some libraries have mobile branches, some have mail services, or even home visits. Libraries are for everyone.

If you’re getting your library card at bigger library, there will probably be signs directing you to a kiosk to put in your name and local address for your card. If it’s a smaller library, just go right up to the person at the circulation desk and proudly tell them you would like your library card, please! Make sure to ask about how many items you can check out, how long you can check items out, what the late fees are, and also what else the library has to offer.

So what does the library have to offer? Physical books, for sure, but with your library card you can also download free e-books and audiobooks. Some libraries even have e-readers or iPods you can check out.

And you can ask your local librarians how to download from the library website both in the library and at home. When it comes to libraries, we always think of books, but libraries love all media: Books,. DVDs, CDs, records, magazines, newspapers, microfilm, microfiche, mp3s, mp4s... if it stores information, it can probably be found in a library.

For that matter, if it reads information, it can be found in a library. Many libraries check out computers and DVD players if there’s a need for those things in the community. Let's be honest, you probably don't have a DVD player anymore, and you probably don't want to buy one just so you can watch that one DVD you have.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, remember that your library is just a branch of a much larger resource tree. You can request a book from another branch, or a partner library. Often, county libraries are connected across the state or region and they all share inventory.

You can request any item in your library’s system by placing a hold on it. Most libraries are set up so you can place a hold online, then a library circulation assistant will pull that item from the collection for you and set it aside under your card number until you can come pick it up. Or, if it’s at a partner library, they’ll send it by courier to your library where a circ assistant will put it aside for you.

Usually you have about a week to pick it up. This is really nice when you want a popular item that’s always checked out. By placing a hold, you’re reserving your spot in the queue to check that item out.

It also helps librarians see which items are popular and they can order more. If none of the libraries in your partner system have the item you want, then libraries use. I.

L. L. or Interlibrary Loan. This is when a library basically checks a book out on your behalf from another library outside its system and then lends it to you.

These items are usually rare, which is why they’re only in one or a few libraries, and have a shorter check-out time. Some are so rare that they can be shared between libraries, but you can’t check them out and leave the library with them. In that case, the ILL librarian will set you up in a room to study the item and maybe make copies.

And if not even the magical ILL librarian can find the item you want, then maybe they’ll just have to find a way to acquire that item for the collection. It’s the room of requirement after all! And in order for libraries to fulfill the needs of their communities, librarians rely on their community members to tell them what they want to see in their library.

Finally, don’t forget to be patient and kind when it comes to requesting changes to your local library. Librarians are balancing the needs and wants of every person in your community. Which is pretty amazing.

Good people, librarians. Thanks for watching this episode of How to Adult! It’s impossible to cover every service libraries offer in one video, so let us know your favorite thing about your library in the comments below!

How to Adult is produced by Complexly. Check out complexly.com to learn more about How To Adult and a bunch of our other shows including Crash Course Literature or Crash Course Computer Science. Two important parts of libraries! [off-screen] Let's get that balled.

Let's get it balled. I want to tell you about a card. A card that's really important.

It's this WhiBal card. [off-screen] It's backwards. [laughing] It's this WhiBal card. It's this one. It's a Michael Tapes design. [off-screen] Oh, point to me too. [off-screen] Beautiful.

Crisp like a Totino's pizza.